Majette Publications
The Life and Times of Benjamin Wiggins, MD

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Other books by Raymond C. Andrews
How to Be
Great Western
Medical Grail & How to Be a Patient



The blood dripping from the face of the 12 year-old would stain his carpet, but Benjamin Wiggins was a doctor, and clean carpets were not a priority. When he entered his examining room and saw lovely Evelyn Cooper, her tattered skirt askew and her blouse ripped at the shoulder, his heart did something. He was not sure what.

Her bruised arms were wrapped around her son. She released him and stepped aside as Ben approached the table. He gently tilted the boy's head backward to find the source of the bleeding.

"You'll be okay, Ronald," he said. He thought it odd the way the kid had been sitting in his mother's arms, head down ashamedly as though he had done something terribly wrong. Poor kid.

"Is this Jack's work?" he asked as he gently examined the boy's face. Eyes ok, mouth and teeth ok; nose is so shattered I'll never be able to make it perfectly straight again.

"Yes," Evelyn sighed. "It is."

Ben had treated young woman's welts and bruises many times before today. He had once put a cast on her broken elbow. She was a victim of spousal abuse, but he could do nothing to help her since she had always refused to tell him the truth about her injuries.

Evelyn was an adult and could keep her private life a secret even if it killed her. But this boy, this kid with a bloodied face, was the limit. This time Ben could not ignore the fact that his own father a notorious drunk was beating his child.

"I need to put your nose back in place, Ronald. It'll hurt," he warned, "but only for a minute."

The boy pulled away from Ben's hand.

"Let the doctor fix your nose, honey. He'll give you a painkiller," his mother assured him.

James! His own son's name flew into his mind whenever Ben heard the word "painkiller." He had died of an overdose of them. He felt dizzy for an instant, then again busied himself with the anesthetic.

Evelyn approached the examining table and held her son's hand. The boy settled down at her touch.

"This will sting," Ben said, "but it'll be over before you know it." He injected the Novocain into Ronald's nose and then reduced the fracture as best he could.

"Where's Jack now?" he asked as he packed the boy's nose with gauze a few minutes later.

"In a bar somewhere," Evelyn shrugged. "He fights with everyone when he's drunk, and he's drunk all the time."

"Considering his small stature, you'd think he'd tire of getting beaten up so often."

"He hasn't met the guy who can beat him, drunk or sober," Evelyn corrected. "Even when he's drunk he can lift a barrel of oil two feet off the ground."

"Does he still work for Whitney Grapes?" Ben asked as he helped Ronald off the table. The boy stood by his mother and gingerly touched his bandaged nose.

"That job lasted three days. It beat his 4-day job in Grinnell."

Ben returned to his desk and opened the boy's chart.

"How do you survive if he doesn't work?"

"I do odd jobs, sewing and such, and we're on unemployment."

Ben nodded and after jotting a few words on the record, stood from the desk. "Your turn now," he said to Evelyn. "Up on the table so I can have a look at you."

"Go to the waiting room, Ronald. I'll be along in a minute," she ordered. The boy quietly left the room.

She sat on the table and tried to cover her shoulder with the torn blouse, but Ben pulled it back and looked at her bruised skin. A red cigar burn and a large black and blue on her upper chest covered others that had not completely faded away.

"Evelyn," he said, "this is the last time Jack will touch you. You think you're responsible for the beatings he gives you and Ronald, but you're not. You're psychologically dependent in an unhealthy way on him, something called codependency. I understand your fears, but I have to tell the authorities about this."

"Please don't," the woman pleaded. "He'll kill me if he thinks I told on him."

Ben could hear the terror in her voice. "He's not going to kill anyone outside prison," he replied soothingly as he examined her elbow. "How is your arm?"

"It's ok. I can't straighten it completely, but I can use it right enough."

"I never believed your story that you fell and broke it," he said as he straightened and then bent her arm. "So confess. Did Jack use a bat or an iron to break it?"

"A tire iron," she replied. She winced when Ben touched her shoulder.

"Besides your shoulder, do you hurt anywhere else?" he asked as he gently walked his fingers over the bones of her chest and back.

"No, he just tore my clothes. He was so drunk he could barely stand. I grabbed Ronald and ran before he did any real damage."

"Evelyn," Ben replied, shaking his head, "a broken nose is real damage. You're so beaten down mentally you don't even realize it."

The woman burst into tears and rested her head on his shoulder. He held her until the spasms ended and then went to his desk and called the county sheriff.

"It's a coincidence you should be calling, Doc," he said. "Jack is trashing a bar on the west side of town. Two of my men are there trying to arrest him, but I might have to send out a few more since he's putting up a heck of a fight."

"Let me know when he's in jail, Phil. I need to file a complaint against him."

"I'll call you as soon as I hear something."

"Thanks," Ben replied. He hung up the phone and took a couple of safety pins from a drawer before returning to Evelyn. "The sheriff's men are arresting your husband now. You'll need a safe place to stay if they don't lock him up for as long as I think they should," he said as he pinned her torn sleeve.

"Do you have friends or relatives that could take you in?"

"No one." The phone rang as Ben snapped the last pin. He returned to his desk and picked up the receiver.

"We got him," the sheriff said, "but it took a squad. Apart from drunk and disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, creating a public nuisance, and damaging private property, is there anything else we can add?"

"Child and spousal abuse," Ben replied, looking at Evelyn. "Repeated spousal abuse, assault with a deadly weapon, and three counts of being intensely disliked by me."

"I think we have enough on him to put him away for a long time without that last charge," the sheriff laughed.

Ben dropped the receiver into its cradle. "Jack's in jail," he announced. "Since your landlord isn't going to let you live in his apartment without paying rent, you'll need a place to stay until you can afford a place of your own. You and Ronald will stay in my guesthouse until I can find you a job and a home."

"But I can't afford..."

"Hush!" he ordered, holding up his hand. "Did you graduate high school?"

"No," she replied. Her cheeks turned fiery red.

"So you'll return to school and then we'll find you a job. Is there anything you'd like to do?"

"I'd like to be a nurse," she said. Her face brightened at the idea. "Do you think I can?"

"Evelyn, you can do anything you set your mind to," he replied. "Do you need anything for pain?"

"Aspirin will do," she answered.

"Good. Take a seat in the waiting room while I instruct my secretary. She'll arrange your move and will help you until you're settled."

"Dr. Wiggins, I," Evelyn said as tears came to her eyes.

Ben put a finger to his lips to silence her. "Just see that Ronald grows up to be a better man than his father, and work on that dream of becoming a nurse. Do that and you'll have repaid me tenfold."

Evelyn gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and wiped her tears before she left the office.

Ben's heart skipped a beat.